State of the City focuses on Suffolk’s ‘momentum’ 

Published 3:32 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

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“Momentum” is Suffolk Mayor Michael D. Duman’s keyword from his 2023 State of the City address to the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, May 16.

Held at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront, the annual forum provided information on the city’s recent achievements, while noting new investments coming in the future, to Hampton Roads civic, business and community leaders.

“Momentum is a commonly used term in sports,” Duman said. “A team that has the momentum is on the move and is going to take some effort to stop. I contend that the City of Suffolk has unquestionably and indisputably has momentum.” Duman said Suffolk is projected to have a 23% increase in population over the next 20 years, according to the U.S. Census. 

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“Not surprisingly, Suffolk was the only city in Virginia to crack Smart Asset’s top 100 fast-growing cities list, coming in at number 78,” he told the crowd. “Smart Asset analyzed data from 494 of the largest cities in America and found that Suffolk had a 3.12% average yearly GDP growth, a 9.55% growth in the number of businesses, and a 9.28% growth in housing units.”

On these developments in city growth, Duman said this comes with a need to be proactive in planning for the future to help properly deliver services that provide a high quality of life.

“It is a challenge, but not a problem,” he said. “A problem would be if no one wanted to reside or invest in our city.”

Duman took the opportunity to announce new investments coming in the city’s near future.

He named two new businesses for Northern Suffolk’s mixed use development Bridgeport — Westside Burgers, a restaurant with a “western theme” opening this summer and Sojourn Fermentory, a new brewery featuring a tasting and dining room, a full kitchen and an outdoor beer garden. Its opening date is yet to be determined.

Likewise, Duman announced the former Elliott Hotel building is receiving “new life” as its rooms will be converted into “45 luxury downtown loft apartments targeted toward young professionals.” The team behind the project is TMA Architects, Commonwealth Preservation and Elliott Apartments LLC.

“The team has completed other projects in the Hampton Roads area, including converting a historic fire station in Norfolk into the Razzo restaurant and completing the nearly impossible task of salvaging Norfolk’s Hotel Savoy, also known as the ‘Leaning Tower of Granby,’ into Savoy Apartments, a mixed-use building similar to the Hotel Elliot,” Duman said. “This group’s experience will undoubtedly help restore the Elliot to its former aesthetic glory.”

Duman said developers have “ensured” that the ground floor will stay a commercial development with Baron’s Restaurant remaining open during the construction. The project’s expected completion date is fall 2024.

The mayor then went on to say there are challenges that still need to be addressed in the city, while noting the importance of public safety. 

Duman announced the “newly formed” public safety committee made up of Suffolk City Council, Fire and Rescue, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, Suffolk Public Schools and Western Tidewater Regional Jail.

“There can be no quality of life if our citizens do not feel safe in their neighborhood or moving about our city,” Duman said.

The Mayor closed his address with remarks on Suffolk’s new opportunities and its future.

“It is obvious that our city is thriving and enjoys abundant opportunities. We are in an enviable position of having to manage the momentum that continues to come our way as businesses and families are attracted to our diverse 430 square miles,” Duman said. “I have lived and worked here for over 45 years and I want you to know, I have never been more optimistic about our future than right now.”